Park City Ski Patrol is grateful to have a new contract - and the community's support
After working under an old contract that was approved nearly four years ago, Park City Mountain Resort ski patrol members’ new contract will pay them more and keep them away from the negotiating table for another 3 winters.
With more than 100-thousand dollars in its solidarity fund and a membership ready to strike if necessary, the Park City ski patrollers union approved the new contract over the busy Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association President Brian Spieker says the threat of the strike could have pushed both sides towards settlement after 50 bargaining sessions left them unable to reach an agreement.
“That's always something I think that is gonna put some pressure on the process to want to get that done and avoid that unpleasant eventuality,” Spieker said.
The strike was averted when union members approved the new contract that gives first year patrollers and mountain safety members an extra $1/hour – effectively bumping their starting pay to $16/hour – as long as they agree to work their shifts from both base areas – Canyons Village and Park City.
Spieker disagrees that the new agreement is where the union would be if they had accepted a contract last year to raise starting salaries from $13.25 to $15/hour – which Vail Resorts did for all of its non-tipped staff members.
“I would say that the incentive package that is present in this contract represents a significant financial step forward from those previous contracts that were offered,” he said.
Spieker added it never made sense to accept what other non-skilled resort employees are making when ski patrollers must not only be strong skiers, but also put their own time and money into emergency medical certification.
“In addition to that,” he said, “it requires between avalanche work and explosives handling, it requires further certification from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). And we also feel that it requires a substantially higher risk than a lot of these other wages that are associated with some of these entry level jobs. And we feel that’s an ask beyond that is absolutely appropriate.”
Spieker agreed that ski patrol attracts those who tend to love skiing more than money – but only to a point.
“I think that was a point that we have loudly reiterated through this bargaining process is that we don't feel that our ask around a lot of these wages is out of line with the work that's being performed” Spieker explained. “And I would agree with you that probably no one became a ski patroller with ideas around getting wealthy. I think that our ask is far more rooted in just being able to continue to do the work. And it's increasingly more difficult to do that.”
As far as what to do with the money in the strike fund, which raised more than $100,000 from nearly 2,000 individual donations, Spieker says patrollers will pay it forward...
“The way it was framed, when I released the fund is it is our intention should that not have to be used, that we kind of push that community love forward” he said. “We're absolutely excited about the opportunity to help with a lot of local charities and a lot of local causes. And we also want to continue to help local organization and unionization efforts for other workers.”
He says the entire team is grateful to know the community backed them up.
“I just want to for us extend our thanks to the community and I can barely put words to how it has made us feel around this and we love you guys back.”
He added that a strike would not have been good for anyone and they’re happy that one was avoided so people can ski and ride.